During winter 2017/8, woodland contractors worked on projects to diversify the wildlife habitats in the wood. At the east end of the wood, a number of poorly grown trees each side of the track leading northwards from the metal gate on the Ridgeway were felled to let in more light. Some will grow again from the stumps to create shrubby growth which is good nesting habitat for birds. Other herbaceous vegetation will grow to provide cover and food for many woodland insects.
Close to this track, a small block of sweet chestnut trees were felled. The trees had been planted many years ago and subsequently coppiced to provide a crop of poles. The stems had grown too large to be cut again for poles but will be split and used for cleft chestnut fencing.
At the opposite end of the wood, another track has been widened by felling birch. The birch had grown after this area had been felled in the early 1900s. Birch is usually the first species to colonise open ground after trees have been removed, so this was a good opportunity to restore a glade within the Great Wood.
Large-scale felling projects take place between September and March when ground conditions allow and to avoid disturbing nesting birds. The logs are left in situ until later in the summer when the ground is hard enough for timber trailers to extract them to a stacking area. The tops are also left until machinery can push them into heaps at the sides of the tracks – again to avoid damaging the woodland floor.